There with you: East London cabbie runs NHS hospital staff home free after their long shifts
- Credit: Barts NHS Trust
Hero cabbie Michael Hayes drives his taxi to his local hospital after a long stint ferrying passengers around London to take doctors, nurses and other key NHS staff home free when they come off shift.
The father-of-three turns up at Newham Hospital whenever he can before he drives home to East Ham, just to make sure medical staff get safely home themselves.
“I really wanted to show my appreciation for NHS staff by offering a little bit of comfort at the end of a long and arduous shift,” he says.
“I just wanted to do something when the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“I don’t care if they’re a consultant surgeon or a cleaner. All are welcome in my taxi a.”
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Michael, a cab driver for 14 years, keeps himself and his passengers safe by taping all air gaps in the taxi partition and blocking the hatch, then puts on a mask when he’s speaking to passengers in the street at a safe distance.
“I give the inside of the cab a wipe over with antibacterial spray between every job,” he points out. “I also wash my hands frequently.
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“Everyone can safely do something supporting their local hospital, checking in on the elderly and vulnerable or becoming a volunteer.”
Michael has many exhausted staff very grateful for a lift home, especially now that public transport is reduced. A&E nurse Micaela Giner Simon said: “Michael is absolutely amazing and kind. He was waiting for staff to finish at 7.30 at night, then again when I finished at 7.30 in the morning. I couldn’t believe it. He doesn’t charge and throws in a nice conversation which cheers us up after a long shift.”
The big heart cabbie has also brightened up the hospital stay for the children in the Rainbow ward with 50 Easter eggs given to him by his sister Lisa Doughty, who is a health and safety official at Ford’s motor works in Dagenham where their Kiddies’ Club had to close because of the pandemic.
Newham Hospital staff, meanwhile, are full of praise for Michael. Senior radiographer Tolesa Buli said: “Michael’s offer of a lift home after my shift made me realise that good people are all around us.
“Covid 19 is affecting me emotionally and psychologically, like anyone else in the world right now. Michael called me a hero after a busy night shift. I honestly felt a few tears in my eyes.
“It made me feel proud and happy that I work for the NHS even during these difficult times.”
Senior Critical Care nurse Julie Ballesteros who also got a free lift home, said: “Getting to work is increasingly difficult with the depleted public transport. But then there are the faces of strangers that help us despite tough times. It’s very uplifting.”
People like Michael Hayes, the NHS staff point out, are needed as much as they are and are also “equal heroes against Coronavirus villain”.